Editorial / Voices

EDITORIAL: An open letter to Gov. Rick Snyder

An editorial cartoon by Kaela Torres.

An editorial cartoon by Kaela Torres.

Gov. Snyder,

State funding of higher education in 2001-02 was nearly $2 billion. Today, it’s $1.4 billion. Although your recent budget proposals suggest that you recognize there is a problem – it’s time to take larger steps toward repairing the damage.

Before you arrived in office in 2011, state funding of higher education was dwindling, but still remained relatively stable. Each student on Central Michigan University’s campus shared a pot of more than $80 million, or $3,722 per student.

“Michigan’s future is absolutely dependent on making our education system a success for our students, our teachers, our parents and our economy,” is what you said in a letter to the Michigan Legislature in 2011.

However, once you took office, things quickly worsened. You slashed education funding across the board. You cut appropriations to universities by 15 percent, opting instead to provide businesses with $1.8 billion in tax incentives.

Your 15 percent inaugural decrease in funding initially equated to 23.3 percent less appropriations for CMU – the greatest decrease of all public universities in the state. It was difficult, but nonetheless, the university persevered.

University leaders pushed forward to try to make CMU an affordable and appealing place for prospective students. Despite working with $12 million less funding than in fiscal year 2010-11, CMU kept tuition increases below your recommendation.

Your move to decrease funding for higher education made students question your values. It’s difficult to see how you can be interested in “reinventing” our economy while pulling the rug out from underneath one of Michigan’s largest employee bases – college graduates.

According to the most recent census data, 25.5 percent of Michigan’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher – or about 2.5 million people.

Although you’ve consistently increased state appropriations for higher education since your initial cut – with a 3 percent increase in fiscal year 2013, 2 percent in 2014 and 6.1 percent for 2015 – it still hasn’t filled the hole you created in 2011.

Perhaps it’s time you begin looking at CMU, and all other public universities within the state, as a business rather than an expenditure – at least from the perspective of state aid.

CMU is the largest employer in Mount Pleasant. We have 2,592 faculty and staff working with nearly 27,000 students. In 2013, CMU turned out more than 2,000 bachelor’s degrees to graduates from our main campus.

We are feeding the workforce – so why only support us once we leave college?

We have residential halls and other buildings on campus that haven’t seen significant renovations in decades. We have fixed-term faculty whose jobs are on the line this year.

Despite hardships, our campus continues to serve as an economic engine for the state. With 220,000 graduates – 124,000 living in Michigan – we fuel business. We only ask that you continue to fuel our university.

Stop treating higher education as second class to nearly every business in the state. Recognize our accomplishments.

We are worthy of your investment.

Yes, the proposed budget plan offers the largest education increase since 2001, and we support you in your efforts to tie funding to performance statistics like graduation rates, administrative costs and research expenditures.

However, this is only a small step in the right direction. Now is the time to be making great strides. We applaud you for turning your focus back toward education, but it’s important to recognize that we are still millions down from where we once were.

CMU and college students across the state need your commitment and support. Show us that you care about higher education and that funding will one day return to where it was before you took office.

Your investment could mean more scholarships, building projects, better programs. It could prevent deficits and grow enrollment.

Your investment in higher education is an investment in Michigan. It’s an investment in providing businesses with the best employees our university can provide. It’s an investment in attracting more people to the state.

Most importantly, it’s an investment in our future.

9 Comments

  1. michmediaperson says:

    An Open Letter to the CM LIFE Editor:

    CMU doesn’t need more money. You and the Democrats are pushing this propaganda in an election year.

    How about cost-cutting at CMU!!!!!

    1. No more speakers. Colin Powell $125,000. The Chimp Lady $60,000. All the liberals who parade through here picking up $10,000…$20,000….$30,000 checks.

    2. The athletic department that loses about 18 million dollars a year.

    3. Professors who work 10 hours a week teaching 2 courses and doing worthless research. There are probably a couple departments that excel at CMU so keep them on research. But, for 98 percent of the CMU departments—get rid of the research and cut the faculty in half to 75 percent and make the remaining professors 4-5 courses a semester. You will slash payroll in half!!! Tuition will skyrocket downwards. Students looking at MSU, WMU, EMU, Grand Valley will be standing outside in long lines wanting to come here since they won’t have to carry any debt after graduation. CMU doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has an expense problem.

    4. Cut the big bureaucratic staffs in half. We have way too many people.

    5. No maids for any CMU employee.

    6. Get rid of majors at CMU that make it tough for graduates to get jobs. The state needs more IT, computer, math, science, business majors—-not ethnic studies, political science, sociology, journalism, anthropology graduates. Snyder is looking to bring in foreigners to do these jobs. If CMU would take money from the worthless departments and re-focus the millions of dollars into the majors where CMU grads can get good-paying jobs immediately and stay in-state instead of moving to Texas where the jobs are, then this is a win-win for the state of Michigan.

    Mr. Editor, those are five to start with. You failed to mention those, including maids to Governor Snyder.

    You’re too young to remain the last Governor Jennifer Granholm who ran the state into the ground financially!

    By the way, your paper endorsed her and then endorsed the left-wing Lansing Mayor for Governor.

    Have you seen what 50 years of liberalism, socialism and the Democratic Party did to Detroit?????? It bankrupted the city. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs. High crime and murder rates. Poor schools. That’s liberalism.

    Governor Snyder, by focusing on businesses, has allowed businesses to hire more people and grow. Take people off welfare and put them into a job and paying taxes.

    This has resulted in massive surpluses.

    Four more years of Rick Snyder and a GOP legislature and Michigan will once again be booming.

    Mr. Editor, throwing more money at sociology, women’s studies, etc., doesn’t help Michigan grow. It’s wasting money.

    • 1. don’t forget to cut the conservative speakers too.
      2. awesome, do it
      3. most profs work more then just the times their classes meet.
      4. agreed… 2-3 new VPs a year is ridiculous… cut ‘em
      5. agreed, but let’s include the president’s home redecorating, groceries and cars. he can afford to spend a bit of his ridiculous salary on those things
      6. we are not a trade school. universities are about a well rounded education. want tweak some things to bring them out of the stone age, fine, but you can’t just blanket cut schools and departments because you don’t understand their value.

      • 2. should’ve been ‘awesome, cut it’

        • Did michmedia go to college? cuz all he does is write on here..he doesnt have a life and SNYDER is the worst governor..eva…Republicans need to learn to share their wealth with the less fortunate..Get A LIFE DUDE!!!! My daughter is a student there and has done very well..wants to live in Grand Rapids area after graduation..loves Michigan..doesnt have cash but works three jobs.. volunteers..DOES RESEARCH on PARKINSONS DISEASE..she will be someone YOU may need one day because your hatred will come back to haunt you..big time. Quit generalizing and talk to students..and parents before you make these grand generalizations about our students..Every person I meet..young or old that went to Central, I ask “Do you have a job?? what do you do?” Always hear a yes and all are contributing to the pockets of the greedy PUBS..in this state. He needs to stop making promises to the citizens of Detroit just because it is election time..noone is falling for his false hopes..after all..if he takes from the youth why not the under-priviledged..I am a firm believer in Karma..She is a democrat!!~!!!!

          • michmediaperson says:

            Share our money???
            When Obama supporter and Obama voter Colin Powell spoke at CMU last year for $125,000, did he share the wealth with your daughter and financially-strapped students?? Nope.
            The Chimp Lady. Nope.
            Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, all the black history, hispanic heritage, asian heritage, gay month speakers??? Nope!!!
            Bill Clinton earned millions in speaking fees last year. Does he share that with CMU students? Nope!!
            Multi-billionaire Democrat Warren Buffet? Nope!!!
            Wealthy Democrats are too ignorant to share money with the less fortunate.

            You say you’re from Grand Rapids??? You can’t be.

            Ever drive downtown and see all those medical buildings conservative Republican families DeVos and Van Arsel have built!!! Republicans in Grand Rapids with their own money have built some of the most impressive medical facilities FOR THE LESS FORTUNATE that you will see anywhere in the world.

            And, look how much money the conservative Republicans have spent WITH THEIR OWN MONEY building Grand Valley State so LESS FORTUNATE STUDENTS can get a college education.

            Wealthy conservative Republicans are far more generous with their charitable dollars than wealthy liberal and socialist Democrats.

            I present Grand Rapids as a case study!

  2. michmediaperson says:

    To It’s Me:

    I went over your head on Number 6.

    What you and the editor don’t understand is this.

    Rick Snyder wants more math, science, computer, health care and business majors so he doesn’t have to bring in foreigners to handle the high-paying jobs.

    What the editor wants is a blank check from Governor Snyder so CMU can invest in areas outside of math, science, computer, health care and business such as women’s studies, leisure studies, hyphenated-American studies, anthropology, sociology, etc. I’m saying to eliminate the major and minor You’d need to keep one prof on board to teach principles courses in sociology, etc.

    Snyder wants well-rounded grads but those majoring in math, science, computer, health care and business. Yes, take one course in sociology or psych or political science for the well-roundedness.

    Problem with colleges today, you have all these liberal arts grads working at McDonalds or at Applebees. He wants to have high-tech, science, health care businesses move to Michigan and start up here.

    That’s what you, the editor and the Libs and the Socialists don’t understand.

    • And what went over your head is that these areas are used and sought after by businesses, especially in Marketing. The corporations need these people in order to better market to and understand their customers needs. Don’t be so arrogant, better explaining the intentions of your comments is not going over someone head, it’s clarifying the statement.

  3. and no one seems to understand how anything about state budgeting and how it works and how universities can use the money for anything, like graduate student dorms instead of preventing rises in tuition or providing scholarships for students. this article is far too idealistic and equally unrealistic.

  4. Informed Alumni says:

    I’m not sure you understand the state’s budget enough to write this article. There are plenty of ways CMU and other universities can cut spending. There is so much useless “research” going on at CMU. I would use James Cappel for an example. The guy sits on a lofty six-figure income, does the bare minimum to poorly instruct a core business course, then collects extra money for doing inconceivably useless research. The governor’s attention is where it should be. In order for Michigan to come back, our economy needs to be revitalized in Detroit. We need business. The universities will survive. I’ll tell you something else, there is not a shortage of jobs in the tech industry in this state. People need to realize that when they choose to get an undergrad in psychology, then remain unemployed or entering data for 12 dollars an hour somewhere.

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